State senate approves $28 billion budget, fully funds some education programs
JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri State Senate sent a $27.8 billion operating budget back to the House Thursday after multiple days of floor debate.
According to a release from the Senate, this is the first time in years the General Assembly will fully fund the state’s elementary and secondary education Foundation Formula. The Senate also agreed to fully fund the Bright Flight scholarship program and increased funding for the Show-Me ECHO program to $3 million.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, said the biggest challenges every year are to find ways to best fund public schools, understand how to better manage the ever-rising costs of Medicaid and still take care of those individuals who are the most vulnerable in Missouri.
But this year those challenges were even tougher given the state's tight budget.
Brown said lawmakers tried their best to meet all of the departments' budget requests. “Together we worked to find savings where we could and to make government more efficient.”
Other budget highlights include increasing Early Childhood Special Education and Virtual Schools Program funding. The Senate’s budget would also fully fund MOSERS, the Missouri State Employee Retirement System, by nearly $46 million to keep the pension system financially sound and restore a 1.5 percent provider rate cut to health and senior services.
The Senate still needs to talk with the House on most of the budget bills before they are sent to the governor for his signature.
The General Assembly has until 6 p.m. on May 5 to get the final budget to the governor’s desk. The next fiscal year begins on July 1.